Can you tell me how you were influenced by African Culture, the particular region as a fashion designer and artist?
I first became influenced by African culture from a dream I had as a teenager. In the dream there was a celebration; people dancing, rhythmic drumming, bright lights and beautiful African print fabrics. I had no idea at the time that this would be the catalyst to my career in designing African clothes, but that energy and joyful feeling is what enhanced and sustained my creativity as a fashion designer.
Being a designer and artist, I am mostly influenced by the colorful fabric prints and eclectic designs. I work with fabrics from all regions of Africa including Ukara, Aso oke, Adire , Batiks and Kente cloth As an artist, I work with cotton, silk, burlap, velvet, linen, wool fabrics and adorn them with African motifs using trims such as beads, raffia, stones, glass, crystals, feathers, yarn, and cording.
My goal as a designer is to create cloths that make people feel confident, empowered and self-expressed. People who wear bold, colorful prints often stand in that space of confidence and self-assureance. Each piece I design holds a special meaning for me.
Have you visited any African countries? When and where? What did you learn?
I have visited several African countries, including; Ivory Coast, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Bostwana. What I learned was that there is so much beauty throughout Africa and so much of the culture to experience from the terrain, the music, the art, the fabrics, the food, the music.
Being out in the African terrain bathed my spirit. There was a certain energy I felt walking and driving throughout the terrain, white water rafting down the Zambezi River, trekking through Victoria Falls, and being on safari with a color baboons face only inches from my own. The music, resonates with my souls; whether I’m listening to the rich, deep A cappella voices that vary depending on the region or songs laden with a wide range of instruments including drums, rattles and double bells, fiddles, and/or xylophones. And then of course, the vast designs of the fabrics, each telling its own story and directing my creative process.